Posts Tagged ‘Status Society’

Love in the Time of Obama

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

From a great piece by Matthew Continetti in the Washington Free Beacon:

Our politicians and celebrities, Democrat and Republican, paint an ideal picture of life where one’s success depends on hard work and initiative bolstered by community; where all Americans begin the race of life on an equal footing, and those who start off disadvantaged should be helped by some agency—whether in government or the private sector—until the contest is a fair one. The assumption is that, with the right institutional mix, one’s natural talents will carry one to the appropriate social station. It is not who you are but what you do that is supposed to count.

It is not every day that an article in Vogue magazine exposes the shaky foundations of democracy. But as I read “The Talk of the Town” for the second time I could not help noticing how these attractive, talented, up-and-coming thirty-somethings relied, again and again, on personal connections to get where they are today. Weisberg describes the couple’s success in terms of “personal intensity and random luck.” But the luck here is less random than he thinks. Kass and Wagner were lucky to be born to their parents, and if they have children their sons and daughters will be lucky to be born to them. They are members of a self-perpetuating milieu, a caste of right thinking yuppies whose position and wealth and patterns of consumption are the fruit of personal relationships spanning decades. There is income inequality, for sure, but there is also status inequality, and this latter form of inequality is a topic on which most bourgeois bohemians are silent.

As is often said, go read the whole thing.

And just remember this one bit, if there is ever another Republican president, some fawning media hack will write the same sort of article about aides to that administration. The two love birds in this future article will be equally cringeworthy know-nothings.

I know some people, but do I know enough of the right people to help ensure my children advance their careers along a path that they will enjoy? These are the sorts of things that keep me awake at night these days. My station in life is baked. I want to do the most possible for the Ace and Deuce.

On Immigration…

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

I’m going to quote from Arnold Kling:

This difference between shame and guilt affects the way people treat strangers. In many clan societies, a household is expected to be a generous host to strangers, offering the household’s best food and sleeping quarters. Not to do so would bring shame upon the household and on the entire clan. However, in a commercial transaction with such a stranger, there is no sense of guilt from failing to live up to one’s bargain or from cheating the stranger.

In the West, the value system is reversed. We feel no obligation to show ultra-generous hospitality to strangers who come to our neighborhood. However, we would feel guilty about cheating a stranger in a commercial transaction.

Our complex economic system requires that strangers deal honestly with one another when they exchange goods and services. Such a system functions more naturally in a Society of Contract than in a Society of Status. In the former, commercial obligations are inherently binding, regardless of the identity of the party with which one deals. In the latter, there is little sense of obligation in dealing with members of a different kinship group.

The emphasis is mine. Please do go read the whole thing.

In light of the whole Jason Richwine flap, and posts like this one this one from Bryan Caplan. I find it somewhat amusing that Arnold put his essay on the Library of Economics and Liberty web site. Is this an intentional tweak of those bloggers?

So while I am generally on the side of complete liberty, I do not want people from Clan or Status Societies moving into my neighborhood. I have but one life and it won’t last the generations it will take these newcomers to adjust to being a member of a Contract Society. I will also say that I don’t really expect my government of doing a fair job of deciding whether or not any particular immigrant belongs to one type of society or the other. Government is, though, the only tool at my disposal. I do not have enough money to create one of Caplan’s bubbles to wall myself off from undesirable Status Society lowlifes. If you don’t believe these people exist, just tour part of the world outside the U.S. (probably should go outside Northern Europe, too).

Also, I do not intend to disparage any particular individual, I just know which way I’ll bet when it come to having immigrant neighbors from one particular country or another.